Sweden prepares for tighter restrictions amid resurging COVID-19 cases

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STOCKHOLM, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) — The Swedish government on Wednesday presented a draft legislation that would enable new measures to combat a new wave of the spread of COVID-19, including a partial lockdown.

The spread of the virus has started to accelerate in six of Sweden’s counties, according to the latest statistics. There are also indications that the more contagious mutation first discovered in Britain is becoming increasingly prevalent in Sweden.

“The declining trend in the spread of infection has stopped. It is worrying and there is a significant risk of a third wave,” Swedish Minister for Health and Social Affairs Lena Hallengren said when presenting the proposed amendment at a press conference.

“A partial shutdown of Swedish society may be necessary,” she said.

Preparing for such measures, the government saw a need for an amendment to the pandemic legislation that was introduced in January.

“We need to develop the set of rules and restrictions within the framework of the pandemic act,” Hallengren said.

Under the proposed amendment, authorities would have the power to shut down shopping centers, gyms and restaurants, which are currently all open with restrictions.

In the proposal, local councils will also be given the power to decide on restrictions limiting access to public places where there is a risk for crowds.

“Whoever violates that ban risks a fine of 2,000 crowns (240 U.S. dollars),” Hallengren said.

Meanwhile, the proposal opens for a more flexible limit regarding the maximum number of participants at public gatherings and events.

“The limit of eight participants should not remain longer than necessary,” said Minister for Culture Amanda Lind, adding that the proposal may also allow for differentiated ceilings on the number.

“These include different rules for indoor and outdoor events and are based on the conditions for social distancing,” she said.

The referral and consultation period ends on Feb. 26. The government’s intention is that the amendment will come into effect on March 11. Enditem

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